Italy 0 v 1 Ireland – Euro 2016 Group E

ITA 0:1 IRE – a dour, scrappy affair in Lille as a sea of green lit up the Grand Stade Lille Metropole as the Irish fans did their upmost to spur on their team to the unlikeliest of wins against Italy. It was not pretty at all as the Irish turned the game into a scrappy battle to suit their tactical game plan. A game of few chances and lacking in any real quality, only a Jeff Hendrick strike from 25 yards threatened Salvatore Sirigu‘s goal. Striker Daryl Murphy, instilled into the line-up by coach Martin O’Neill despite not recording a goal in 24 international appearances, met a fantastic Robbie Brady set piece to force a fingertip save from Sirigu just before half time. Italy basically fielded a B team and offered very little going forward as Antonio Conte tried to urge his men on enthusiastically from the sidelines. Juventus forward Simone Zaza was unlucky not to find the net with a sharp volley from Mattia De Sciglio‘s cross early in the 2nd half. SSC Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne sparked a little life into the Italians when he came on, striking the post with a curled effort from the edge of the box as the Irish started to tire. Italy were making mistakes also, Leonardo Bonucci gifting the ball to Wes Hoolahan who had only Sirigu to beat but produced a tame effort to squander the best chance of the game up until that moment. If anything was to happen for the Irish, it was going to happen through Robbie Brady. He started a move deep in the Irish half and continued his run, the ball in from Hoolahan from the right was inch perfect and the Norwich City FC man nodded past the poor Sirigu to send Ireland through. A wonderful moment for the Irish and their brilliant fans. Italy’s reserves were dreadful but Ireland only had to beat what was put in front of them. Joy for Martin O’Neill, his team’s reward is a memorable tie against the French in Paris in the last 16.

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